Getting To First Base

The note said the assembly started at 8:50 am. Past experience dictated I had a few extra minutes to spare because as hard as those elementary teachers try, getting five grades of children to neatly file into the gym in an orderly fashion makes herding a group of blind cats look easy.

I stopped off at the local gas station and refilled my coffee cup with what should be terrible coffee but isn't, (Van Houtte for the win!) and stopped to chat with the owner for a second.

"My son is receiving an award at the school assembly today!" I chirped brightly.

"Oh Frac? Good for him! What did he do?" the owner asked.

"Oh, not for Frac, for my other son, my youngest, Jumbster."

I could see the gears in his head spin as he tried hard to pull up the memory file of my youngest son. And there it was. I could see the exact moment he remembered who my youngest son was. That dark haired Native kid in the wheelchair who is always slumped over and drooling.

The look on his face transformed for a nanosecond but in that fraction of time I saw pity wash across his face, followed by shame for feeling it and then finally embarrassment for realizing I could see what he was thinking.

"Oh good good!" he smiled as he rang in my purchase. "What is he getting the award for?"

"Good question! I have no idea! I guess I'll find out when I get there!"

I walked out of the gas station sipping my coffee and feeling a little bit deflated. Sometimes it sucks that the world doesn't see how awesome Jumbster is as easily as they recognize it in others. I wish I could magically make everyone see what I see when I look at him.

Inside the gym, hundreds of children fidgeted about, several of them belonging to my family tree, each spotting me and waving "Auntie Auntie Auntie!" in the excited way a child does. My rock star moment happens whenever I walk into the elementary school and a niece or a nephew spots me. I grew ten inches that morning as I took my seat in the corner of the gym.

Soon the awards where parsed out, one for creativity, one for friendliness, another for improved penmanship. The girls won the coveted Cleanest Bathroom trophy and the boys booed hard at their loss. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the boys. Having lived with the testicled for years I know how hard it is for them to not pee all over the toilet seats. The contest seemed designed to ensure their failure.

I was only half paying attention, playing on my phone as the assembly went on. Part of me mourns the son that was robbed of his elementary experience whenever I am in that school and another part of me whispers that it is not too late to have another child. Look how cute they all are! You could be part of this for years to come!

My broken uterus is a total bitch whenever she's surrounded by other people's off spring.

And then it was the Jumbster's turn. His name was called and I watched as his aide undid his brakes. A tall boy in his class puffed up with pride as he pushed Jumby through the crowd and toward the front of the gym. The vice principal smiled down and read aloud the note his teacher had written. He handed Knox's award to his helper friend, gave my son a high five, shook his friend's hand and then both boys headed back to their spot in the gym beside their teacher.

Jumby grinned the entire time. His friend grinned bigger.

His award?

Was for being the best button pusher.

The best weather man.

The best carpet sitter.

The best jump rope turner.

It didn't really matter what it said on the award; as I watched the kids surround Jumby to give him high fives and ask if they could be the one to push him back to class I knew he had already won the best award.

He's included. By kids who see him and not the things he can't do.

Sure, to some adults who don't know my son he's just some Native kid who slumps in his wheelchair and foams at the mouth. But for those kids growing up alongside him, in his class, in his school, he's Foxy Knoxy, the kid who laughs the loudest and the hardest and makes them feel like a million dollars.

It won't always be like this, I know, but for these sweet short moments in time, I'll take it. I'll suck up this magic and enjoy the innocent acceptance these children offer my son and I'll pray like hell they will grow into adults who remember Jumby's sweet laugh and can see past a person's disabilities to see them for the people they are.

I leaned over and kissed my son as the kids in his class started putting their jackets on for recess and divvy into teams for a ball game. For a second I wondered if they would remember to include my son.

I shouldn't have wondered.

As I walked away I heard one of the kids tell Jumbster's aide that he can be the first base. Because that way he'll get to be on everyone's team and high five every player.

I left that morning hoping every kid in that school would get a chance to get to first base with my kid.

Parenting Jumby has made me the loosest mom on the block.

You totally want to get to first base don't you?